Music theatre Opera 1995

Venus and Adonis (Venus und Adonis)

Opera in one act for singers and dancers

Libretto by Hans-Ulrich Treichel

Commissioned by the Bayerische Staatsoper

Period of composition 1993-95
Duration 70 minutes

World premiere

World premiere: 11. January 1997

Munich · Bayerische Staatsoper

Production Pierre Audi
Design Chloë Obolensky
Conductor Markus Stenz


Three concert singers come together in a strong and erotic conflict. The climax of their emotional outbursts is always taken up and continued by their dancing doubles, who carry on the action under the names of Venus, Adonis and Mars, until an éclat occurs, and breaks up the form of the whole work.


Hans Werner Henze



sopranothe prima donna
Clemente tenore a young opera singer
baritonethe actor playing the hero’s rôle
6 madrigalisti2 sopranishepherds
1 mezzosoprano shepherd
1 tenoreshepherd
1 baritono   shepherd
1 bassoshepherd
Venusattrice ballerina
Adonisballerino attore
Marsballerino attore
attrice ballerina the mare
ballerino attore the stallion
ballerino attorethe boar



Orchestra I “Venus”

3 Flauti2° anche Ottavino
3° anche Ottavino e Flauto contralto
1 Sassofono
anche Sassofono soprano
1 Trombone contralto
1 Trombone tenore
1 Trombone basso
1 Tuba
Percussione Tamburo basco
Trinidad steel drum
Block cinesi
Cimbali, Frusta
[per 2]
4 Violini
3 Viole
3 Violoncelli
1 Contrabbasso



Orchestra II „Adonis“

3Oboi3° anche Corno inglese
3 Fagotti3° anche Controfagotto
4 Corni
Percussione Timpani
4 Tomtom
4 Woodblocks
[per 2]
4 Violini
3 Viole
3 Violoncelli
1 Contrabbasso


Orchestra III “Mars”

3 Clarinetti2° anche Clarinetto piccolo
3° anche Clarinetto basso
3 Trombe
1 Tromba bassa
Percussione Timpani
3 Piatti sospesi
3 Tamtam
Gong cinesi
Tamburo piccolo
Grancassa e piatto
[per 3] 
4 Violini
3 Viole
3 Violoncelli
1 Contrabbasso